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Conservatives among potential Finance Committee choices

July 25, 2012

Walpole Town Moderator Jon Rockwood told 180 this morning that he is still in the process of choosing new people to appoint to the Walpole Finance Committee. Two seats are open on the committee, as John Stadtler and Ralph Knobel both left. Rockwood said he spoke to “at least seven or eight people” about filling the seats, but many of them said they wouldn’t be able to serve.

Rockwood confirmed that he has been contacted by conservatives Christine Coury and John F. Robinson, Jr. regarding seats on the Committee. Former candidate for Selectmen Christopher Donovan informed 180 tonight that he, too, contacted Rockwood today regarding a seat. Rockwood said all three individuals are valid potential appointees.

Rockwood said he “would consider” putting at least one conservative voice on the panel. He said a decision is expected within the next few weeks, and he is taking his time.

“I’m not going to rush into making any appointments,” Rockwood said.

The 15-member Finance Committee serves an advisory role to Town Meeting, making recommendations on Town Meeting articles. It is one of the most influential town boards in Walpole.

Other Rockwood News

In other news, Rockwood said Monday night’s Special Town Meeting was by far one of the more contentious he has overseen during his eight-year tenure as Moderator. He said he does not condone the Finance Committee’s failure to hold a public hearing as required by the town charter, and said it was entirely within Town Meeting’s purview to postpone their meeting. Rockwood argued that in citing the court case “Young vs. Westport,” he merely advised Town Meeting that they had the ability to proceed with the meeting if they wanted to.

“I was just trying to say, ‘look, if we choose to go forward we’re on legal grounds’,” Rockwood said.

Rockwood conceded that perhaps a precedent has been set where the Finance Committee can ignore the charter and never again hold a public hearing on a Town Meeting warrant, but insisted that the incident was isolated.

“This is one situation where unfortunately it happened and the law specifically, clearly states that we were entitled to go forward,” Rockwood said.

Rockwood also said he doesn’t understand why many RTMs repeatedly cut off debate, a practice known as “moving the question,” during the meeting. Rockwood also said that the rowdy citizen (RTM John O’Leary’s brother) who attempted to speak at the end of the meeting would have had the opportunity to address the body if he had raised his hand earlier in the evening.

“If anything, the criticism of me over the years has been I allow too much debate,” Rockwood said. He pointed out that he allowed conservative RTM Cliff Snuffer to address the assembly during the Spring Town Meeting on the override question even when other RTMs felt it was out-of-line.

Rockwood also said he was affected by longtime RTM Mary Campbell’s comments at Town Meeting that the body was becoming “powerless,” in light of town officials’ blatant end-run around Town Meeting in not putting the override on the Spring Town Meeting warrant. Campbell’s comment added fuel to the fire of some citizens who also criticized town officials for ignoring Town Meeting’s role in the override process when they jacked property taxes to reflect the override amount well before Town Meeting appropriated the money.

“I took to heart what she said,” Rockwood said of Campbell. He maintained that Representative Town Meeting is still the best form of government for Walpole.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Arnie Fickel permalink
    August 19, 2012 9:03 PM

    Jon Rockwood is very disappointing, I actually voted for him. I hope he does not plan on running for higher office. Democracy is a lot bigger than his agenda and people in town will not forget this…Typical Lawyer…

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